There have been many news reports about an antique Syriac Bible. We're told here that:
it's connected with smugglers
it's 1500 years old
may contain the gospel of Barnabas
is worth some vast sum (e.g. $28,000,000)
even photocopies of its pages are worth $1,700,000
Sounds like the photocopies are worth more than the original!
[and don't forget that the Vatican is involved -- a vital ingredient for all tasty conspiracy stories]
But hang on. How many gold letter Syriac Bibles are there sloshing round smuggling rings in Turkey and Cyprus? Haven't we seen this before?
Anyway, those who want some facts can look at the images in this news report.
The photo starts by homing in on the word 'Amen' halfway down the left hand page. As it scrolls over the wording above it is clear that it is Matthew, we get the sequence:
[dn]trwn klm' dpqdt[kwn]...
'n' 'mkwn 'n' kl[hwn]
[yw]mt' 'dm' lšwlm[h]
that they should keep all that I have commanded [you]
I am with you all
[da]ys until the end [of]
It's just plain Peshitta.
Now are my eyes deceiving me or does the last line of the colophon they show say something about 'in the year 1,500 of our Lord'?
bšnt' 'lp' whmšm' dmrn
If so, the media dating is only out by a millennium, but I'm not sure of my reading at this stage.
The pointed Nestorian script is the giveaway that we're not dealing with something 1,500 years old.
It is puzzling that if the end of Matthew is on the left hand page, the right hand page should be blank. Also with only two verses appearing on this page of Matthew (28:19-20) there is certainly no way this manuscript has enough pages to contain the four gospels and no way that the whole of Matthew could occur to the right. Moreover, it's odd that all the writing is grouped on the right hand side of the page. These are features which would make me think of it as a modern forgery. Why go to the effort of using gold and yet have the appearance on the page so irregular and the margins so uneven?
Anyway, anyone who would pay $28,000,000 for this ought to consider doing the world a favour by buying up some toxic debt instead.
Any more observations?
I see that Michael Law got there first on reading the '1,500 years' and in suspecting a forgery.
Possible arguments in favour of forgery could be failure to distinguish beth and kaph; the angle of the nun in 'year', the page layout, the line spacing, the gold, the criminal context, the release with such hype. This sort of thing could happen when someone is copying a text without really knowing the language.